The Working on my Novel author talks eating Buffalo Wings once a week, Seinfeld and why coders don't necessarily love techno music
As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series.
A book adaptation of a Twitter feed is nothing (very) new, but Cory Arcangel's Working on my Novel stems from a loftier literary heritage, one that has thwarted and in part defined the creative process of writers everywhere for centuries: procrastination. Based on a twitter feed that re-tweets the best posts featuring those four deadly words – "working on my novel" – the book is being hailed as an epic piece of art and literature in itself. Exploring the gap between the online and offline ways in which we express our creativity today, the book encapsulates the perils of the process of trying to do anything (never mind do it well). So much more than a Twitter "personality", Arcangel has worked as a computer programmer, composer and artist out of his NY-meets-Internet home for years: last year saw his vocal trio Title TK release their first record, and his tech-led artwork has appeared in shows from New York's MoMA to our very own Tate across the pond. To celebrate Penguin's publication of Working on my Novel, we spoke to Arcangel about watching Dazed and Confused a gazillion times, his unlikely love of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and what it was like to teach HTML to people over 10 years ago (in summary: LOL).
Whose face should be on the $100 bill?
Cory Arcangel: It would be cool if it was an artist of some type. Poet, musician, novelist, etc. etc...anything will do. It's a tough game out there so it would be good to show some love to someone who sweated it out. Tupac would be cool maybe.
When + where you the most happiest?
Cory Arcangel: Any morning I don't need to get up at a certain time. SMH.
What food reminds you of home?
Cory Arcangel: Chicken wings. I'm from Buffalo so this is probably pretty obvious. But its a real thing there. Like, you know, there wasn't a week that would go buy without having them growing up. Buffalo's a true bar town.
What's the best road trip you've ever been on?
Cory Arcangel: I went "on tour" along with the great art group Paper Rad across the United States in 2003 on a tour called, "The Summer of HTML". Paper Rad was represented by a few of their bands...Extreme Animals, Dr. Doo, and Natural Rephlex. By the way, at their height, Paper Rad was the best – I am not sure I have ever seen anything as amazing as them. Anyway, for my role on the tour, I taught people HTML. Ten years ago, this was like lecturing/talking about outer space to people! Ha. I'm glad things have changed.
Which fictional American do you most identify with?
Cory Arcangel: Jerry Seinfeld.
What noise reminds you of the States?
Cory Arcangel: Hip-hop rumbling/blasting out of car windows. I travel a lot, and the thing I miss the most being away from NYC is hearing Hot 97 mixed with a bit of doppler effect because it's coming out of a moving car. It's a great way to keep up on whats going on. It's also always fun to hear who has a lock down on Hot 97 at any point. It was Drake for a while, then Kanye, then Rick Ross...
Ultimate American film?
Cory Arcangel: Dazed and Confused. It was part of a project I was involved many years ago, and in making that project I had to watch it probably 50+ times – it was crazy, I never tired of watching it. What a perfect film, oh my god.
Ultimate American album?
Cory Arcangel: CSNY [Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young] – Deja Vu. I had a few years, maybe 2004-2005, where I ONLY listened to this record. It used to surprise people, because that was also the years I did my most computer programming. You know, people expect computer programmers to listen to techno all the time or whatever, but that's a more modern phenomenon. But, for me, somehow CSN&Y was perfect for computer programming. Great band!
What law would you change or invent?
Cory Arcangel: It's not a law, but I would make all international cell phone data plans free. They are a lot like airline points. As much as you try to figure them out, they just don't make any sense. It's a constant stresser on my part because I travel a lot, and I am always scared stiff to go on the internet on my phone for fear of a $1000 bill. LOL.
Favorite slang phrase?
Cory Arcangel: "Sick".
What is your ultimate American guilty pleasure?
Cory Arcangel: Wendy's #6; no mayo; Biggie size, hold the Coke-a-cola.
What will America look like in 2050?
Cory Arcangel: Hopefully not under water. :/
Working On My Novel by Cory Arcangel is available in paperback from Penguin now.